Hudson Valley Parent

HVP March 2017

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14 Hudson Valley Parent n March 2017 By ELORA TOCCI W hen Dr. Amy Piperato saw a CNN special on Charlotte Figi, a child with a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syn- drome, she immediately took notice. That's because Dr. Piperato's son suffers from Dravet syndrome as well. The news story on CNN focused on the only treatment that had successfully stopped Charlotte's seizures: medical marijuana. Dr. Piperato, an internist with a practice in Stony Point, began researching medical marijuana, and, she says, "found the science behind how it works in the body fascinat- ing." So she joined advocacy efforts for the state legislature to pass the Com- passionate Care Act which would legalize medical marijuana in New York. Those efforts paid off in July 2014, when the bill passed and New York became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana. The first medical marijuana dispensaries in the state opened in January of last year, creating a promising new treatment option for children like Dr. Piperato's son. Although now legal, there are many regulations restricting who is eligible to be prescribed medical marijuana. "New York requires a patient to have one of 10 'qualifying conditions' for acceptance into the medical marijuana program: cancer, inflam- matory bowel disease (Crohn's and ulcerative colitis), ALS, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, spinal cord injury, AIDS/HIV, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, or epilepsy," Dr. Piperato says. "Patients also need to have specific symptoms to go with one of these diagnoses to qualify: severe nausea, severe pain, seizures, wasting syndrome, or severe muscle spasm." Qualifying patients must then find a physician who is registered to prescribe medical marijuana, of which there are currently only 849 throughout the state of New York. And many of the doctors regis- tered to prescribe medical marijuana only see adult patients. Dr. Junella Chin is an exception. A Bronx native who moved back to New York from California two years ago, she has extensive experience integrating medical cannabis into treatment for her juvenile patients. Dr. Chin has offices in New York City and White Plains and treats more than 40 pediatric patients with medical marijuana. Her practice is open to accepting new patients. "In my practice, I'm seeing the sickest of the sick," she says. "Chil- dren who have intractable epilepsy, seizures as a result of traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries... cancer and colitis." Dr. Chin said she has turned to treating some young patients with medical marijuana after having exhausted both pharmaceutical op- tions, and other forms of treatment, including brain surgery or ketogenic diets. The scoop on pediatric medical marijuana JOIN OVER 12,000 LOCAL PARENTS Fresh content delivered to your inbox weekly! Choose the topics you're interested in... Weekend Events Parenting Trends Education Resources Camp Reviews Healthy Living Advice Beauty Tips Party Planning

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